-Before there was a Tire Industry Association (TIA), before there was even a Tire Association of North America (TANA), there was a National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association (NTDRA).
OK, so that's not much of a stretch. The NTDRA existed until November 1997, when members voted at the annual convention to approve the name change to TANA.
Two of the best-known, best-liked personalities in the NTDRA were Charles D. ``Tony'' Hylton III, communications director for nearly 20 years, and Donald T. Wilson, director of government affairs. Whenever a member needed quick info about NTDRA programs or pending regulations and legislation that could affect tire dealers, chances are they dealt with Mr. Hylton or Mr. Wilson. Both were fixtures at the annual conventions and other meetings-the friendly faces of the association, always ready and willing to help.
Unfortunately, the name change also denoted changes in the organization, as budget crunches mandated a leaner, tighter association. Mr. Hylton was laid off in June 1997; Mr. Wilson survived into the first year of TANA's operations, only to see his job phased out in the fall of 1998.
Their subsequent careers have led them away from the tire industry-but not so far away that old friends can't find them.
Virginia tire dealers-particularly those who have reached, shall we say, a certain age-have almost certainly seen the handiwork of Mr. Hylton, who has served as communications director for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)-Virginia since November 2000. And any dealer who has taken advantage of programs offered by Small Business Development Centers sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration has benefited from the work of Mr. Wilson, president and CEO of the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC ) since February 1999.
Of the two, Mr. Hylton has had the more varied experience since leaving the NTDRA. He operated his own, one-man public relations firm, Reston Public Relations, and in that capacity did work for such organizations as Continental Tire North America Inc.; the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington; and TwinBays International, an Internet-based procurement company.
His favorite job since leaving the NTDRA, however, was serving during the 1998-99 academic year as a visiting assistant professor at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., teaching communications and public relations management.
``I held the position during another professor's sabbatical,'' Mr. Hylton said. ``I knew going in that it would only be for one year. As it turned out, the university did come back and create a permanent position I could have applied for. But the travel back and forth from Virginia and the cost of maintaining two homes was too much.''
As it turns out, Mr. Hylton has grown tired of the three-times-a-week, two-hour commute between his home in Reston, Va. and the AARP office in Richmond, Va., where he is responsible for all the media programs on behalf of the Virginia office's 910,000 members. He is selling his Reston house and expects to resettle in Richmond by the end of September.
Mr. Hylton works on media programs for the AARP's 92 chapters in the state and also coordinates state publicity efforts with AARP headquarters in Washington.
``There are 400 media outlets in the states-newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations-and I work with them all through direct contact and Web links,'' he said. ``Through our Web links, I can send press releases to all of them in 30 to 45 minutes.''
Mr. Hylton is particularly excited about the AARP's new ``Active for Life'' program, which seeks to promote physical activity among people age 50 and older. So far, Richmond is one of only two AARP offices-Madison, Wis., is the other-to become involved in the program. The pilot program concludes at the end of 2003, he said.
Away from work, Mr. Hylton spends time with his ``very good friend'' Kathy and his grandchildren, who in June doubled from two to four. Georgia Audrey Smith was born June 10, and Reilly Linell Hylton was born June 28. In addition, Grandchild No. 5 is due Nov. 15. Outside of family matters, he also still plans to find a publisher for his reminiscences about editing a small-town newspaper in his native West Virginia.
While his AARP duties keep him very busy, Mr. Hylton said, ``I'd be most happy to work with anybody in the tire industry who needs consulting.''
For Mr. Wilson, the path from his old job to his new one was much straighter. ``I did a little traveling, spent some time getting to know my wife and kids a little better, and then I applied for the job at the ASBDC,'' he said. Mr. Wilson and his wife Ann have two children: Laura is a senior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and Brian is a senior in high school.
As the ASBDC's president and CEO, Mr. Wilson is in charge of 58 state and territorial programs-including U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands-all partially funded by the SBA. Providing free management and technical assistance to small businesses throughout the U.S. and its dependencies, the ASBDC is the largest government technical assistance program in the nation. ``It may be the only association specifically provided for by Congress,'' he said.
Loan applications, development and marketing plans and bookkeeping are only a few of the things with which the ASBDC staff can help small businesses, according to Mr. Wilson. ``Any problem a small business has, we have someone trained and able to take care of them,'' he said.
Mr. Wilson sees his entire career as leading up to his ASBDC position. ``I did so much with small business when I was on Capitol Hill, and then I dealt with an association in which most of the members were small or mid-sized businesses,'' he said. ``Small business entrepreneurship has always been where my heart is.''
The ASBDC serves 1.2 million to 1.3 million clients annually in approximately 1,000 service centers. About half of those clients are served in face-to-face counseling and training sessions, according to Mr. Wilson.
``I'm sure some of them have been tire dealers, but I have no idea how many,'' he said.